DirectorPieter Jan Brugge Initial DVD releaseApril 6, 2005 (Finland) Duration
Release dateJuly 2, 2004 (2004-07-02) WriterPieter Jan Brugge (story), Justin Haythe (story), Justin Haythe (screenplay) CastRobert Redford (Wayne Hayes), Helen Mirren (Eileen Hayes), Willem Dafoe (Arnold Mack), Alessandro Nivola (Tim Hayes), Matt Craven (Agent Ray Fuller), Melissa Sagemiller (Jill Hayes) Similar moviesSicario, Blackhat, Fatal Attraction, War, The X Files: I Want to Believe, In the Mood for Love
The clearing 2004 trailer
The Clearing is a 2004 American drama film and the directorial debut of Pieter Jan Brugge, who has worked as a film producer. The film is loosely based on the real-life kidnapping of Gerrit Jan Heijn that took place in the Netherlands in 1987. The screenplay was written by Justin Haythe.
Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford), and his wife Eileen (Helen Mirren) are living the American dream in a wealthy Pittsburgh suburb, having raised two children (Alessandro Nivola, Melissa Sagemiller) and built up a successful business from scratch. He is looking forward to a peaceful retirement with Eileen. Everything changes when Wayne is kidnapped in broad daylight by a former employee, Arnold Mack (Willem Dafoe). While Wayne tries negotiating with the kidnapper, Eileen works with the FBI to try to secure her husband's release. During the investigation, Eileen learns that Wayne has continued an extramarital affair that he promised to end months previously.
Eileen is eventually instructed to deliver the ransom to the kidnapper, but Arnold takes the money without returning her husband; Arnold murdered Wayne the day of the kidnapping. Although Eileen's ordeal takes place over the course of a week, the film is edited to show Wayne's kidnapping as if it was happening at the same time.
Arnold is eventually caught when he begins to spend the ransom money in the neighborhood where he lives. At a local grocery store, he uses a $100 bill to make a purchase. The store manager calls authorities and verifies the serial number on the $100 bill is on a watch list the FBI distributed to local businesses. During questioning Arnold is asked if he wanted to be caught, and he admits that the kidnapping was to get money for his depressed wife, but it took him all day to bring himself to kill Wayne and he couldn't live with the guilt of his crime. In the end, Eileen receives a loving note written by Wayne before his death.
Robert Redford – Wayne Hayes
Helen Mirren – Eileen Hayes
Willem Dafoe – Arnold Mack
Alessandro Nivola – Tim Hayes
Matt Craven – Agent Ray Fuller
Melissa Sagemiller – Jill Hayes
Wendy Crewson – Louise Miller
Larry Pine – Tom Finch
Diana Scarwid – Eva Finch
The film was shot in and around Asheville, North Carolina and in downtown Pittsburgh.
The film has received mixed reviews. According to Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, it "doesn't feel bound by the usual formulas of crime movies. What eventually happens will emerge from the personalities of the characters, not from the requirements of Hollywood endings." According to Peter Travers in Rolling Stone, The pleasures of this endeavor, directed with a keen eye for detail by Pieter Jan Brugge, come from what the actors bring to the material."
Ty Burr, in the Boston Globe, felt that the film had a "lack of emotion" and "could have been more than it is". M. Torreiro, in the Spanish newspaper El País, described the film a "tense thriller, cramped and made of downtime and sensations on the limit, a strange film."